Draft contract for city’s streetlights shows progress could come sooner than neighbors expected

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- When Indy voters elected Mayor Joe Hogsett two years ago, he vowed to light up a city that had many dark streets for decades.

Since then, CBS4 has tracked how well the mayor has kept his pledge to install thousands of new streetlights.

In August, the mayor announced the city had a proposed deal with Indianapolis Power and Light that could lead to 4,000 new streetlights over six years.

Now, CBS4 has a draft copy of the city’s agreement dated one day before that announcement that details just how fast the first lights could go up.

The contract states that if the cost of converting to LED streetlights and running remains as expected, IPL could use the savings install up to 300 lights every three months starting in early 2018. That would be 3,600 new streetlights in roughly the first three years of the contract, close to the 4,000 grand total Mayor Hogsett promised over six years.

Some neighbors, who worried their neighborhoods may have to wait years to see LED rate savings turned to light, are excited to hear the streetlamps could come much sooner than ever expected.

“I have never seen this much progress made to say this is what we’re going to do,” said Amy Harwell, the president of the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood association. “I now feel very confident that we will get some lights.”

In a statement, Ted Feeney, a former Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association president who fought for improved lighting on city streets for years, also commented on the possible change in momentum for the city.

"The new update from Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL) regarding new energy-efficient streetlight installation is encouraging for Indianapolis neighborhoods. There was slow movement in 2016 by the Hogsett administration on this election campaign promise. The city is enduring an ongoing public safety crisis, so the addition of thousands of new streetlights will give neighborhood groups another tool to help combat crime. The streetlights will also help pedestrians navigate dark city streets. I hope that the installations will align with high-crime areas and dangerous intersections in the city."

The contract as it stood when Hogsett made his announcement, does leave room for conversions of 27,000 of the city’s 30,000 lights to happen over the six-year period.

If switching to LED lights doesn’t save as much money as the city expects based on research, both parties can reevaluate and reduce how many lights go up every quarter.

A spokesperson with the mayor’s office says it also gives them flexibility to convert about 3,000 largely decorative streetlamps to LED in the future, if new technology makes it possible.

The city-county council's Public Works Committee will discuss and likely vote on whether to recommend Proposal 320, which approves the contract, on Thursday. If they vote yes, it will go to the full council on December 4th.

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